p.s. here are the top 10 posts of 2014
The Festival of Lights, Fire Boat Festival or Bun Lai Heua Fai in Luang Prabang celebrates the end of Buddhist Lent. Individuals make little “boats” out of slices of banana stalk and decorate them with flowers, a candle and incense and send them floating down the river. Talia made one at school so before the crowds showed up we sent hers off down the river. Then we went off to see what else was going on.
All the temples in town, expecially the ones in the historic parts of town, where we live, were decorated with hundreds of candles and hanging lanterns. The site was quite cosy and magical.
The monks were busy lighting hundreds of candles in their temples.
The candlelight on the stupas and temples was beautiful and attracted many photographers professional and amateur alike.
Along the way we met Talia’s friends from school who were waiting to watch the parade of fire boats that would be coming down the street.
When the temple percussionists started the playing the parade was underway. They play cymbals, a gong or two, and of course the big drum.
Schools and other groups sponsored fire boats and joined in the parade. The fire boats are boats made with paper over a frame and covered with candles. As you can imagine, candles and paper don’t mix well so each boat had a few “fire fighters” who tried to make sure that their boat made the trip to the river without burning up.
Some groups even dressed up in traditional costumes to escort their boat to the river.
We ended up watching most of the parade in front of some friends’ house, which was in a convenient spot right before the parade turned into the temple.
All of the boats congregated at Wat Xieng Thong, the oldest and most famous temple in Luang Prabang.
The end of Buddhist lent falls on a full moon, which tonight was sitting right above the temple.
After leaving the temple the boats are carried down some steep stairs to the Mekong River. We walked along the river a ways to sit and watch the boats float by. It’s too bad the festival only lasts one evening of the year, because it was so magical.
Every morning at dawn, hundreds of monks in Luang Prabang leave their temples, walk single file down the street in their saffron robes to collect alms. I decided to get the big girls up early at the end of Buddhist Lent, so that we could observe this religious ritual on a day that the streets are particularly full of locals giving alms.
This ceremony has become a huge tourist attraction, so we chose a quieter street in hopes of seeing a more genuine event. As we walked down the street, we watched people set their mats out and arrange their offerings of sticky rice, packaged food, money, flowers, incense etc… Getting up at 5:30 was exciting for the girls, but they also wanted to sit down as soon as we found a good spot to watch. Some nice old lady called the girls over to come get some snacks from her. Others not participating in alms giving, were going about their normal morning routines at their outdoor kitchens. There were still a number of tourists on this quiet street. And a few locals wanting to get some pictures of my girls with theirs. You can see they are nearing the end of their walk as they are now carrying an additional plastic bag full of food. The monks in turn give some of what they’ve received back to the kids in the neighborhood who are waiting with their own empty basket. We saw our neighbors out giving alms too.and receiving quite a bit in return! We ended our early outing by enjoying breakfast at a cafe and returning home to Daddy and Isla who had just gotten up. And Talia was already ready for a nap!
Here are a few snapshots from October that you may have missed if you aren’t on Instagram. You can see these and more by clicking here.
Because tutus make folding laundry so much more fun 👸 A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Oct 2, 2015 at 8:35pm PDT
First tree climbing experience for the girls in a really old gnarled plumeria tree. A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Oct 5, 2015 at 6:07am PDT
Our afternoon walks almost always take us to the river. It’s a highlight of my day. A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Oct 19, 2015 at 6:08am PDT
Up early to watch the monks collect alms on the end of Buddhist lent. A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Oct 26, 2015 at 7:20pm PDT
A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Oct 30, 2015 at 5:02am PDT
Here are a few snapshots from September that you may have missed if you aren’t on Instagram. You can see these and more by clicking here.
Trying to stay dry in the pouring rain. #notgonnahappen A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 3, 2015 at 6:06am PDT
//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.jsPress play above to watch the short video clip.
Highlight of the boat races for these two was getting to pick out a balloon for the first time. A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 12, 2015 at 6:09am PDT
“grilling fish” by the river. Who needs toys? 🌿 A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 20, 2015 at 6:40am PDT
Soaking up some family time before high season starts up here. A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 26, 2015 at 8:36pm PDT
A spectacular Saturday evening sunset over the Mekong River. #nofilter A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 26, 2015 at 6:20am PDT
What were the highlights of September for you?
Another item on our list as tour guides, was to take Ryan’s brother and sister in law to enjoy the beautiful Kuang Si waterfalls.It’s always fun to watch the bears in the sanctuary on the way in. First, we walked to the top to see the all the different pools and the big waterfall, and took the chance to scout out our options for swimming holes. Tip: get there early to beat the crowds and you can have a pool to yourself! The water is always pretty chilly, but a hot sunny day made it quite refreshing. It’s perfect for kids, even if they can’t swim yet, because there are lots of shallow areas to play and enjoy the slippery banks. An added bonus of these waterfalls is that this is the native habitat for the famous “fish spa” fish, so the dead skin from your feet gets cleaned up while you wade around. Nibble, nibble, yum, yum! Ryan enjoys watching unsuspecting newbies get nibbled for first time. Wait for it…!The water has minerals in it making the water a turquoise color and forming a rough buildup on rocks and logs, making climbing and exploring super fun and easy. We enjoyed a couple hours of swimming, then packed up to get some lunch near the entrance of the park before heading back home.
What is your favorite waterfall to visit? Could your feet use a fish spa?
We were so excited to have some family come visit us for a couple of weeks this summer! Aside from lots of relaxed time (and late nights!) catching up at home, it gave us the chance to see Luang Prabang as tourists again. Ryan was able to take a few days off work, and we also made the most of the two weekends during their visit.The temps were HOT! So, we went swimming a couple of times, and tried to cool off in the AC between outings. In the middle of Luang Prabang is Mt Phousi. One evening we decided to make the climb at dusk to show them the view from the top of the town. It’s a LOT of stairs, but the kids love it and race on up ahead.We were all dripping with sweat by the time we reached the top (along with everyone else!) but the views were worth it. Our kids were part of the attraction for a crowd of Asian tourists, but they didn’t seem to mind. We had fun people watching, as well as enjoying a beautiful sunset over the river before heading back down. It’s also fun and much cozier during the winter!
What mountains have you climbed? Have you ever become the tourist attraction at a tourist attraction?